The kinase activity of kinase suppressor of Ras1 (KSR1) is independent of bound MEK
Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
Kinase Suppressor of Ras1 (KSR1) functions as a positive modulator of Ras-dependent signaling either upstream of or parallel to Raf-1, and pharmacologic inactivation of KSR1 may serve as a treatment for Rasdriven malignancies such as pancreatic cancer (Xing, H. R., Cordon-Cardo, C., Deng, X., Tong, W., Campodonico, L., Fuks, Z., and Kolesnick, R. (2003) Nat. Med. 9, 1266-1268). Although some studies demonstrated a requirement for KSR1 kinase activity for its action, others suggested KSR1 acts primarily as a scaffold facilitating assembly of the c-Raf-1/MEK module. We recently established a two-stage in vitro reconstitution assay to measure KSR1 kinase activity (Xing, H. R., Lozano, J., and Kolesnick, R. (2000) J. Biol. Chem. 275, 17276-17280). In this assay, KSR1, immunopurified to apparent homogeneity, never comes in contact with recombinant kinases other than c-Raf-1. In the first assay stage, activated KSR1 is incubated with recombinant c-Raf-1 and ATP. In the second stage, activated c-Raf-1 is separated from KSR1, and incubated with unactivated MEK1, unactivated MAPK, Elk-1, and ATP. Elk-1 phosphorylation serves as a specific readout for MAPK activation. However, because KSR1 constitutively associates with MEK1 and this interaction appears critical for KSR1 scaffolding function, it has been argued that the kinase activity detected is an artifact of KSR1-bound MEK1. To address these concerns, we depleted as much as 90% of KSR1-bound MEK1 by high salt washing without altering KSR1 kinase activity. Further, a complete inactivation of KSR1-bound MEK1 by pretreating with the MEK inhibitor PD 98059 prior to the first assay stage did not alter KSR1 kinase activity. In addition, the omission of exogenous recombinant GST-MEK1 from the reaction mixture during the second assay stage abolished Elk-1 phosphorylation confirming KSR1-bound MEK1 does not support MAPK activation in our in vitro assay. Moreover, a kinase-inactive mutant, FLAG-Ki-KSR1(D683A/D700A), which efficiently interacts with endogenous MEK1, lacks kinase activity. These results collectively support our contention that the kinase activity of KSR1 is an intrinsic property of this protein independent of KSR1-bound endogenous MEK.